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Fibre optic, mm-wave tests underway for 5G networks

Posted: 18 Sep 2015     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Blu Wireless  5G  mm-wave  fibre optic 

The XHaul Project based is a $8.35-million programme that will explore options for communications infrastructure for 5G cellular networks, and will test mm-wave and fibre optic backhaul networks. XHaul will use mm-wave modems from Blu Wireless along with fibre optic components in a trial network that aims for less than 1ms latency and up to 10Gb/s of data by 2018. The existing wireless network can process about 1Gb/s.

"Backhaul is a major pain point in [cellular] networks, so with 5G we want to make sure that it is done more efficiently," said Mark Barrett, chief marketing officer for Blu Wireless.

Bristol has many media companies, including a BBC site and Aardman Animation (of Wallace and Gromit fame), which generate many terabytes of imaging data. "They have a problem, and have to shift that around between different development sites and have demand for more broadband...The city also has a fibre optic network that wasn't being heavily used," said Barrett.

Blu's current offering is a 60GHz wireless modem based on its Hydra PHY/MAC with a phased array antenna. Barrett said the modem could be put on a lamp post or used together with mesh networking. The test network will rely heavily on a software-defined network using the OpenFlow protocol as a control mechanism.

"We see a lot of interest in mm-wave [for backhaul] from operators in Europe," Barrett said. "One significant difference between the U.S. and Europe is in the regulatory regime; in Europe it's much more difficult," he said.

Europe currently requires that antenna gain must exceed 30dBi and conducted power must be under 10dBm, EE Times Europe reported, and that can affect interference. Barrett said Blu Wireless developed a baseband DSP that uses a "hybrid software-hardware architecture based on parallel processor techniques" to reduce interference.

Field trials are already underway with Blu Wireless working with Huawei, Telefonica I+D, TES Electronic Solutions, the University of Bristol and others. The XHaul effort is part of the 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5G-PPP), a joint initiative between the European information and communications industry and the European Commission.

The project includes China's Huawei because of its "major presence in Europe in terms of development centres," Barrett said. European tech giants Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia and Ericsson are involved in different 5GPPP projects, he added.

XHaul is funded by the EU's communication programme, Horizon 2020, and will run for three years until June 2018.

- Jessica Lipsky
  EE Times

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